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The Effects of Lortab Use

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Man starting at pills on table

Lortab is the combination of hydrocodone, an opiate used to manage pain, and acetaminophen, an over-the-counter analgesic and antipyretic (fever reducer) that augments the pain-relieving effects of the hydrocodone.

Lortab is prescribed in pill form, and intended for oral use. Despite this, Lortab is frequently misused via a number of ill-advised methods. These include:

  • Being first crushed into a powder that is then snorted.
  • Mixed with water for intravenous use.

These latter routes of administration can prove extremely hazardous to one’s health.

Is Lortab Harmful?

drugabuse_istock-3061926-sad-girl-sitting-on-floor-head-in-headRegardless of the methods of ingestion, Lortab abuse poses serious risks to your health. The effects of opiate medications render them highly addictive, and what may begin as recreational misuse can quickly develop into a life-altering drug dependency.

As tolerance to opiates builds, users find themselves needing increased amounts of the drug to achieve the “desired” effects. As consumption of the drug increases over time, so do the risks of harmful side effects and overdose.

Unbeknownst to many prescription drug abusers, excessive use of a substance such as Lortab can be particularly dangerous due to the acetaminophen portion of the drug formulation. When taken in excess (and it takes surprisingly little to constitute “excess”), acetaminophen can do irreparable harm to the liver. When combined with alcohol, another liver-damaging substance, Lortab’s dangerous effects are heightened to extreme levels.

Lortab abuse and addiction can be damaging to your body and your life in a number of ways. If you or a loved one is struggling to get free from an opiate addiction, call to learn about recovery programs and how to find the best treatment option for your situation.


Lortab Short-term Effects

Lortab can produce a number of effects in the short term that “feel good” for users, especially when higher doses than advised are taken (or the user is taking Lortab recreationally). These short-term effects include:

  • Feelings of relaxation and well being.
  • Reduced awareness of pain.
  • Drunk-like/euphoric state.
  • Sedation.

In an attempt to feel the effects above, a user may take increasing amounts of Lortab as he develops tolerance to the medication. This is one way that a Lortab addiction begins to develop. If you have a prescription for Lortab, it’s extremely important to take only as much as directed, for the short duration that it is intended. When you misuse Lortab or take it without a prescription, you increase your risk for both dependency and a whole host of dangerous side effects.

Opiate abuse ravages the body.
See our infographic on the effects of opiates on all the body’s systems.

Side Effects

The undesirable effects of Lortab are varied and become intensified with misuse of the drug. Side effects of Lortab may include the following:

  • Lethargy.
  • Drowsiness.
  • Confusion.
  • Anxiety.
  • Respiratory depression.
  • Itchy skin.
  • Constipation.
  • Light-headedness / dizziness.
  • Fainting.
  • Nausea and vomiting.

An overdose of hydrocodone can cause a drop in blood pressure, irregular breathing that progresses to respiratory arrest, loss of consciousness, coma or even death. As previously mentioned, a separate but potentially devastating overdose situation can occur with the acetaminophen in Lortab as well.


Lortab Long-term Effects

In addition to the potentially damaging health effects of both hydrocodone and acetaminophen, a Lortab addiction can bring about a number of social and behavioral changes in the user..

Those struggling with Lortab addiction may experience:

  • Consistent cravings for the drug.
  • Compulsion to get more and more Lortab, such as by doctor shopping to get prescriptions.
  • Ongoing mood and personality changes.
  • Withdrawal from social activities once enjoyed.
  • Impaired judgment.
  • Strained interpersonal relationships.
  • Changes in priorities – abusing the drug takes precedence over everything else.

Lortab Dependence

drugabuse_istock-53047412-sad-girl-on-top-of-roof-head-in-hand
As touched on previously, if you use Lortab for an extended period of time, your body will begin to build up a tolerance to the drug. Once the body builds this tolerance, users find themselves needing to take more and more of the drug to achieve the same high. It’s important to note that the phenomenon of opiate tolerance is so pervasive, that you can become tolerant to Lortab, even if you are taking your Lortab as prescribed.

It could be a strong warning sign of impending dependency if, while taking Lortab as prescribed, you feel like your body has become used to the Lortab. If this has occurred, it would be advisable to contact your doctor to let them know, and to further discuss your options.

Whether or not your Lortab use began while being cared for by a physician, if you find that you are abusing Lortab strictly to get high, it’s important to seek help, such as that offered at a rehabilitation facility. Chasing the high that hydrocodone and other opiates initially elicited is a losing proposition. As you take more and more of the drug to achieve your high and combat your tolerance, the risks to your health, your productivity and your interpersonal relationships begin to steadily mount.


Lortab Withdrawal Treatment

If you are addicted to Lortab and want help, check yourself into a drug addiction rehabilitation center. After you’ve been evaluated, the center will start your detox process. This process allows the body to break free from its long-standing toxic influences.

Detoxing under medical supervision can help you comfortably manage the withdrawal symptoms associated with Lortab, which may include:

  • Aches and pains.
  • Nausea/vomiting.
  • Stomach cramps.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Fever/chills/sweating.
  • Insomnia.
  • Anxiety.

Once you’ve safely detoxed under medical supervision, your treatment will generally shift to helping you gain the skills and insight you need to maintain your recovery. This may include elements such as therapy, family counseling, and involvement in recovery programs such as NA.

Substance Side Effects

Learn about the short-term and long-term effects of substances on the body and mind:

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Patrick Condron, M.Sc., M.A.C., is an addiction specialist and drug and alcohol counselor. He is Executive Director of Lazarus House, Inc., a transitional residential program for men and women who continue to work on their recovery towards independent living.
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